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Davis, Smith, Thompson and McMorris Rodgers Demand Answers on Biden’s $500 Million Earmark Request for Political Allies

WASHINGTON – Today, Committee on House Administration Ranking Member Rodney Davis (R-IL), House Committee on the Budget Ranking Member Jason Smith (R-MO), House Committee on Agriculture Ranking Member Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA), and House Committee on Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) released the following statement after sending a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary, Office of Management and Budget, and United States Agency for International Development demanding answers as to why President Biden’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget request included a $500 million earmark for the Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness and Innovations (CEPI), an organization with deep political ties to the Obama and Biden Administrations, and why no lobbyist for CEPI ever registered under the Foreign Agent Registration Act: 
 
“Pandemic preparedness should be something the United States is better equipped to handle in the future, but that should not come at the expense of transparency and accountability in how federal tax dollars might be spent. The American people deserve to know why the Biden Administration believes this organization with such concerning conflicts of interest is deserving of hundreds of millions of dollars on a non-competitive basis.” 
 
As the letter states: 
“The lack of transparency and justification for this funding increase raises concerns. Furthermore, CEPI’s close ties to the Obama-Biden and Biden-Harris Administrations, suggest a revolving door of politically-connected personnel where Administration friends are rewarded with federal dollars, as detailed below:

  • CEPI was founded in the final days of the Obama-Biden Administration in January 2017, while Dawn O’Connell served as a Counselor to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary under President Obama.
  • Ms. O’Connell then became the Director of CEPI’s U.S. office upon leaving the agency, working in this capacity for four years.
  • While at CEPI, Ms. O’Connell lobbied the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in “support of appropriations from USAID to CEPI… [and an] Unsolicited Proposal Concept Note… for possible cooperative agreement funding relationship.”
  • Ms. O’Connell has now rejoined HHS as President Biden’s Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), serving in a senior position capable of making or influencing these types of funding decisions.
  • Furthermore, CEPI’s current Director of the U.S. office is Dr. Nicole Lurie, who served as ASPR under the Obama Administration.”

Full text of the letter is available here. 

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